Counties Manukau Health partners with local businesses to help employees go Smokefree

smokefree sarah te ao

Media release 5 December 2018 | Customer relations manager Sarah Te Ao was spending $230 dollars a week on cigarettes. She was worried about her health and her children were constantly trying to talk her out of smoking. It was something Sarah had wanted to do for a while, but never got around to do it.

“I always left it for next year”.

When the Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) Living Smokefree Service partnered with Sarah’s employer, DHL Express NZ, to deliver a programme to support their staff to stop smoking in the run up to Christmas, she decided that, after smoking for 15 years, it was time to quit.

Living Smokefree Services Health Promoter Diana Uele says the programme started in September and included a seven-week group based treatment (GBT) programme, incorporating evidence-based behavioural support and pharmacotherapy.

 “The focus is on preparing for a quit date and managing withdrawals and behaviour change through to the following month via group support facilitated by two Smokefree practitioners. The programme was further incentivised via CM Health’s Hang Tuff Don’t Puff challenge for workplaces,” says Ms Uele.

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as patches, gum, lozenges and mouth sprays were provided free to those who enrolled. Practitioners also advised on non-nicotine prescription medicines as well as provided information on vapes/e-cigarettes. 

The sessions revolved around the experiences of participants. They shared their barriers, triggers, struggles, solutions and outcomes faced towards being smoke free. They also celebrated each person for their progress, as each week of being smoke free was a success.

DHL Express NZ HR Business Partner Maree Lane says they’re proud to support the partnership with Counties Manukau Living Smokefree Service.

“This is an important local service and DHL prides itself on providing its employees with assistance and support to improve their health and lifestyle through our Health & Wellbeing Programmes. It is inspiring to see that 62% of employees that signed up completed the programme and are working towards a smoke free lifestyle,” she says.

The group decided as a collective their quit date would be the 8th of October, with eight of 13 people completing the programme and achieved their smoke free goal. Those who managed four weeks without a single puff (validated by a Carbon Monoxide breathalyser monitor) were rewarded with a $100 voucher.

“We have been supporting each other. When the stop smoking day came, I didn’t want to let anyone down.  The programme caters for different people and the support we received was amazing”, says Sarah.

“I feel so much better now. The food tastes better, I’m not out of breath anymore and I stopped coughing. I also have a lot more time and money left that I’m not spending on smoking.”

“I only wish I had stopped sooner, but I’m happy I did stop now.”

The Living Smokefree Service has worked with more than 50 local employers to help their staff quit smoking. The Service currently receives approximately 5000 referrals per annum and the goal is to double this to 10,000 per annum over the coming years.

If you or your workplace would like to get involved in a similar incentivised programme, please contact us on 0800 569 568, free text NOW to 590, email us at smokefree@middlemore.co.nz or visit our Facebook page Hang Tuff Smokefree 2025.